AHRC Forced to Prioritise 'Big Society' Research… – by Will
Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/mar/27/academic-study-big-society
Just saw this on Twitter:
Academics will study the "big society" as a priority, following a deal with the government to secure funding from cuts.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will spend a "significant" amount of its funding on the prime minister's vision for the country, after a government "clarification" of the Haldane principle – a convention that for 90 years has protected the right of academics to decide where research funds should be spent.
Under the revised principle, research bodies must work to the government's national objectives, although the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that ministers will not meddle in individual projects.
It is claimed the AHRC was told that research into the "big society" was non-negotiable if it wished to maintain its funding at £100m a year.
There seems to be some debate between academics and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as to whether or not this prioritisation was a voluntary move, but if the AHRC was strong-armed into this position then it is a very worrying development.
This being said, regardless of one's political beliefs, if the 'big society' model is going to become the dominant way in which communities encounter the arts and humanities then it is clearly very important that the scheme is properly researched.
Whether or not the research findings will please the government is another matter entirely...